Wout van Aert "can only get better now" - Fabian Cancellara

Wout van Aert started his cobbled classics campaign at the E3 Saxo Classic, and with absolute success as he directly beat Mathieu van der Poel and Tadej Pogacar in order to defend his title.

"I think Van Aert will have taken a lot of confidence from this. Let's not forget, his direct record against Van der Poel has not been good in recent years, especially in sprints," Cancellara wrote in a Cyclingnews column. "There was the sprint he lost in Flanders in 2020, then the same thing happened at Cyclocross Worlds last month, and let's not forget Mathieu winning Milan-San Remo last weekend. However, I wouldn't be too worried about his shape. He showed some weakness, but I think he can get over it with this win."

The Swiss classics legend analyzed in depth the podium riders. Van Aert, the winner of the Belgian classic, saw that van Aert won the sprint having learn his mistake from the past. The long distance favoured him, but that could only come after he survived the multiple attacks throughout the day's climbs.

"And that's the thing with Van Aert; he's the guy who's still coming up. There's a difference between being up there and coming up there. Mathieu, since last week, is clearly up there. Tadej has been up there for a long time already. Wout is still coming up," Cancellara continues.

"He can only get better now, and that could yet be his advantage at the Tour of Flanders." Van Aert's main goals of the spring are Flandres and Paris-Roubaix. His form is coming in perfectly towards the two monuments, two races which he has not won to this day despite his immense talent and versatility.

"You cannot make big progress between Harelbeke and Flanders but if you do some nice finishing training or racing it's still possible to add that little bit of top-end to your condition. I believe Wout is missing that last little thing, but maybe with this win, he will get that for next weekend," he concluded.

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